Friday, August 26, 2005

More on Bolton: A Thorn in State’s Side?

Again I go to Talking Points Memo, because he’s been covering this so well. Here’s the meat of what’s really important:

The Bolton Civil Wars in the State Department may have just re-started.

For those who followed the Bolton battle from early March through August, one of the real issues with John Bolton is that he was constantly attempting to undermine Colin Powell, Richard Armitage and others but did so with Dick Cheney's blessing.

There is evidence bubbling to the surface -- not altogether clear -- but pointing to the possibility that Bolton has already stepped out of his holding pen and is undermining Condi Rice and Bob Zoellick -- again with Dick Cheney's blessing.

First of all, I’m intrigued by the connection to Dick Cheney and wonder – again – just what Bolton’s connection is to the whole WMD-Plame thing, and if Bolton was Cheney’s man in State, does that mean that Cheney is connected to the outing of Plame? It’s not like it would really surprise me.

Anyway, TPM goes on to say that they questioned Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nick Burns about the removal of any reference to Millennium Development Goals from the Bolton-edited Millennium Summit draft document, which I spoke about yesterday. They also make one point that I wasn’t aware of:

…the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are not firm targets and in the past, the U.S. has for the most part robustly supported these goals. The MDGs were agreed to by 190 nations in 2000 and reaffirmed in the Monterrey Consensus and referred to in the Gleneagles Declaration this summer.

Burns ducked the question, so now suddenly the State Department has done an about-face on their stand regarding the MDGs. From TPM:

But when it came to the MDGs, it seems as if Burns…(was) coached to respond to any MDG issue by referring to the U.S. objection to the 0.7% target.
Reading between the lines – Burns…refused to stand up for Bolton or say more in support of this stance. (He) refused to say anything.

The implication that TPM draws, and that I agree with, is that Bolton went off on another rogue mission and State is refusing to back him up. The real kicker is here:

But my guess is that Bolton is drawing his energy and position from Karl Rove and Dick Cheney and only flirts part time with Bob Zoellick and Condi Rice.

Well put, and probably the truth. Personally, I think it’s very likely that the schizophrenic face of this administration is reflective of an internal power struggle that may have been going on from the beginning, and Bush is sort of the man caught in the middle. It would explain his inability to defend any given position and his irritability when called out on mistakes made by the administration – he simply refuses to come down on one side or another.

Does he do this because he’s trying to hold something together, or because he’s managed? Hm. That’s the real question, isn’t it?

This whole situation needs close attention. I’ll continue to cover it…

Posted by crimnos @ 8:28 AM